Natalie Brenner: How a first-time author became a bestseller without a large platform

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Most bestselling authors have several not-so-best-sellers under their belt. Or they have a massive platform from which to promote their book. However, the following story by author Natalie Brenner proves that with a little (well, a lot) of hard work and focus, a writer with a small platform can achieve fantastic success on the first try. Enjoy this excerpt from her post Why I Stopped Waiting to Win the Lottery and Just Published My Book:

It was nearly midnight when I desperately tweeted to my 300 precious followers, “Does anyone have any sort of literary agent connection they could hook me up with?

I had little to no idea how to go about getting the book burning inside me published. It felt impossible to get a publisher to bat an eye at little ol’ me. Because really, I had little to no platform and in order to win the lottery of a traditional publisher, I needed a platform.

None of my blog posts had gone viral.

I had been blogging for six years and had 56 dear subscribers.

I felt really successful when a single blog post had over 100 views.

Combining my Facebook friends, Facebook page fans, Twitter and Instagram followers, I had about 1500 names in my social circle.

Platform? What is that? Surely someone will just notice me.

Though my online community was small, I still had countless people asking me when I was going to start writing books. I wanted to have started yesterday, but I didn’t know where to begin or if I could start with so little of a following.

Nine months after tweeting that desperate request, my book This Undeserved Life was released. It became a bestseller in six different Amazon categories, sold over 500 copies the first week and 1000 copies the first month. It remained number one in the Family Health and Adoption category for most of its release. Within 3 weeks it had over 50 reviews on Amazon.

I have since had dozens of readers reach out and ask me about my next book. I have a traditional publisher inviting me to draw up a proposal for my next book. I have had requests to create and offer a course or coaching on various topics. To some, these numbers may be miniscule. To me, they are both mind-blowing and humbling.

In January 2017, I started my email list at a whopping zero when I transferred my website and lost my dear, dear 56 committed community members.

My goal was to build a list of 1000 subscribers by release day — September 18.

To me, this goal was big: I am a full-time photographer, a full-time work at home mom to two toddlers (both under one-year-old at the time of starting the book), and a wife to a full-time unpaid graduate student. And we are involved in church and community events.

My time to give my book and online community (platform) building was at zero, but I moved around priorities and worked my butt off. The goal was met. But not without hard work, determination, and belief in myself and my message.

Have I yet mentioned I began writing this book with two babies under one-year-old as well as a growing photography business? Just want to make sure that is clear: I am not sitting around with tons of time to pursue this, just as you aren’t.

So, how in the world did little ol’ me, a blogger of seven years with a minuscule platform — can I even call it a platform? — become a best-selling author nine months later?

Writing This Undeserved Life was a painful, difficult labor of love and it followed many years of unsuccessfully creating the online community I had hoped for. Let’s dive into the process.

Identity

It all began with grabbing ahold of my identity as a writer.

I grabbed ahold of it tightly and began calling myself and acting like a writer.

A mental shift happened: I began to take myself seriously.

The why

Since reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, I knew the importance to start with why.

Why did I want to write this book? Why did I think the world needed it? Why is this book anything different than what’s already available?

Study the pros

After I processed why I wanted to write This Undeserved Life and why I believed the world would be better if it was created, I began studying people who were successful in the book writing, marketing, and selling world as well as people who were successful in my genre.

Just do it

At the end of the day, I just had to do it. Here were the steps I took to write and self-publish This Undeserved Life, in nine months:

I just started doing it

No one is motivated to run a marathon before they start running. Maybe they are, but they’re crazy. When I was training for the Portland Marathon, beginning every training run was difficult.

It wasn’t until I started doing it that I gained motivation.

This was the same for writing my book: I knew there was so much work ahead, but I knew it wouldn’t happen over night.

I simply started showing up and doing the work.

Redesigned and used my website + blog

I honed my voice and began writing more consistently on my website.

Creating a blog calendar to post at least once a week helped.

Just write — goal was to spend less than 90 minutes per post, publish, and share.

Expand my circle — influencers

I set out to use my website as a place to interview other authors in my genre who I admire.

I sent emails and explained to them why I loved their book(s), how I’ve implemented their advice or tips, and asked if I could do an interview and book giveaway.

Most said yes, others said no. I conducted interviews via phone, Skype, and email.

I built my email list

After I read and heard how incredibly important email lists are, I began putting a good amount of energy into creating a safe community.

I created a grief guide ebook, Wholeness Despite the Brokenness, and offered it for free to anyone who wanted to download it. I also created an adoption fundraising guide, Financing Adoption with Fundraising.

I found a groove sending out emails to my dear community every other week.

I love this community; they helped me pick my title, my author photo, and more. I want to give my community only good and valuable things.

I wrote my manuscript

While doing these steps and chipping away at everything I could, I was also working on my manuscript. My first draft made my eyes bleed. I rewrote and erased and rewrote the next draft.

The important thing was: I got it out. I wrote the first draft (and then the second and third…)

Make an influencer list and ask for endorsements

I created a three-tier influencer list. These were people I wanted to write an endorsement, and give me a shout out or two.

My first tier was names of people who I knew would say “yes” to reading and endorsing my book. A few were writing and podcast friends, one was a best friend, and the rest were people on my email list.

My second-tier list were people of whom I wasn’t sure would say “yes” to endorsing my book, but I thought might. Most of them were influencers of sorts, whether a popular blog or podcaster or author.

My third-tier list were people who I highly doubted would respond to me, but would make my year if they read and endorsed my book.

I began with tier one: sending clear emails, asking them to read my book, and write a few lines to endorse it. This would be used either for the inside the book, or my website. I gave a deadline. When they responded with “yes,” I sent the PDF immediately.

Once I had a couple, I wrote to each individual influencer on list number two. They were similar emails, but specific to each influencer. I told the author, podcaster, speaker — whatever their respective title — why I was thankful for their work, and how I had used their advice. Then I shared two sentences about my book, along with an endorsement I had received. I asked if they’d be willing to read it and do the same. When they said “yes,” I sent it right away with the deadline. When they said “no,” I asked if I could send them a copy of my book to read for a giveaway or shout out.

I did this with the third tier as well. Each person who responded gave me their address. So even if I didn’t receive an endorsement, I have permission to mail them a copy of my book to share on their social media.

Book launch time — don’t do this alone

Nothing in my life that has been successful has been done alone. I knew I needed a community, and specifically the community I had been working hard to create and build.

I set up a Facebook Group to invite readers to help me launch This Undeserved Life. I gave everyone the manuscript digitally and asked their help on finishing touches of the cover.

This group remains a strong support network: I have loved the community built around This Undeserved Life through that group.

Tim Grahl has an entire podcast series and website that guides you on how to successfully launch a book. I listened to the entire series twice.

Publish and release!

My book is now available on Amazon and has been sold across the globe.

I believe in the message of This Undeserved Life.

There have been purchases from multiple countries and continents, and not because I’m someone fancy. I chose to do the hard work it required.

And, so can you.

At Certa Publishing, we can vouch for Natalie’s experience. We’ve seen firsthand that authors who demonstrate this type of determination and focus consistently succeed, often surpassing everyone’s expectations! If you would like a partner in this complex publishing process, contact us to learn more about our services.

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Do you want to be published? Or do you want to write?

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Let’s step back a moment. Why do you write? No really. Why? If we are honest, we may find that the answer is self-focused. Ann Swindell tackles this issue in her post for The Gospel Coalition blog, titled Don’t Write Just to Get Published, which we have excerpted here:

For those of us who love words, we’re drawn to the clack of the keyboard and the parsing of meaning on the page. We feel alive as we wrangle words into sentences; some of us even feel closer to God as we work out our faith by writing about it. Time spent writing feels important, even holy.

But for many of us, running parallel with our love of writing is the desire to get published. This desire can be fueled by the culture at large, which says our writing only matters if our readership is huge and our byline well known. Publication is commonly assumed to be the goal of the writing life, and seeing our words in print the truest form of validation for our work.

As an author and teacher of writing, I often have conversations with other writers fixated on publication. They’re desperate to see their work published somewhere. They want to know how to start a writing career, or how to get the inside scoop on writing for a top magazine.

In response to their questions, I have to ask: Do you want to be published? Or do you want to write?

These aren’t the same question, although many of us confuse one for the other. For as much as writing is tethered to publishing, getting published doesn’t make a writer. Writing makes a writer.

STARVING FOR VALIDATION

From my experience, the aching desire writers have to see their words published has less to do with writing and more to do with unresolved issues of worth and purpose in their season of life—often one that feels less than satisfying. Why? Because when what we’re called to do is quiet and unseen—perhaps a season of parenting or a season of faithfulness at an uninspiring job—writing can seem like a quick ticket out of the mundane. We think that maybe—just maybe—if we could get the right publication to accept us, or if we could get the right editor to give us a chance, then perhaps we’d feel some validation, even if our daily lives seem boring.

But getting published won’t fulfill your longing for validation. Fame won’t fill the gap. As someone who’s writing and publishing regularly, I’ve found publication isn’t what keeps my heart and soul alive—if anything, getting published will actually have the opposite effect on a soul seeking renown. Instead, I’ve had to return to the ultimate purpose of writing, asking the bigger question of why writing exists at all. And as with all things under God’s dominion, the purpose of writing is bigger than I can comprehend. It’s much, much bigger than getting published.

The purpose of writing is worship (1 Cor. 10:31).

This is why the question we must return to as writers, over and over again, doesn’t regard publication or platform. Instead, the question we must ask is: Am I worshiping God in my work as a writer?

This is not a trite question, nor a cop-out. It’s not a way to ignore the very real questions of publishing. But it must be the starting place for any work the Christian writer does.

FINALLY SATISFIED

Worship is an inherently foolish act to an unbelieving world. It makes us no money, and garners us no praise. In fact, to write as an act of worship means deflecting all praise and attention to God.

This is how we overcome the temptation to find our worth in publication instead of in Christ. We pursue satisfaction in writing for Christ alone. For if our writing is an act of worship—writing to him, writing about him, writing with him—then it doesn’t ultimately matter if anyone else reads those words. If our essays and stories and articles bring joy and praise to the King of the world, and if they point our own hearts toward his goodness and his worthiness, then those words have accomplished the central purpose they were made to fulfill: worship. If his eyes are the only eyes that read the words we’ve written—but if they honor and glorify him—then we’ve written well and wonderfully in heaven’s sight.

Now, this perspective doesn’t mean we should forsake publication when the opportunity arises; it doesn’t mean we must write as hermits away from the world. What it does mean, though, is that if we submit a piece for publication, we aren’t doing so because we’re clawing at validation. Instead, we write from a place of security in Christ (1 John 3:1), trusting God to do his will in our work as we’re obedient to him.

Any opportunity to write for an audience outside of the Trinity is secondary—a gift but never an expectation. If the Lord does give us a platform where our words reach twenties, or hundreds, or thousands, or millions, the purpose of the writing remains the same. Whether through novels that display God’s goodness, books that clarify his character, articles that point to his truth, or poems that declare his presence, the purpose is always glory for him.

Writers, we must ask the Lord to search us and help us discern why we crave publication (Ps. 139:23–24). Chasing the desire to see our byline in ink will only leave us frustrated, self-absorbed, and exhausted. But if we seek to worship Christ and commune with him in our writing, we will be freed to do what we really want: find true purpose and worth in our work. And the good news is that the purpose isn’t in our name, but in his. Our worth isn’t in how others react to us, but in how they react to Jesus. The goal isn’t making ourselves famous, but lifting up the name of Christ.

So, do we want to be published? Or do we want to write?

In all things, we want to worship.

At Certa Publishing, we couldn’t agree more. We don’t evaluate our authors based on the number of books they will sell, but on the way their message glorifies the Lord and edifies His people. Contact us today so we can partner with you in your publishing journey.

Naming Your Book

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Your book is written, the manuscript is in the final editing stages, and it’s time to finally nail down the official title of your work. Perhaps you’ve been using a working title, but its incredibly important that you sit down with multiple people in the business (your publisher, literary agent, trusted writer friends, unbiased professionals, people in your target audience, etc.) to develop the perfect title. Because the fact of the matter is…

There’s nothing more important than a strong, engaging title.

Potential readers consume in the following order: the title, the front and back covers, the first pages of content, and the price. If they aren’t grabbed by the title (and the front cover doesn’t make up for what the title lacks), then you’ve lost your potential customer.

So how do you develop and choose the most effective title for your book? Here are 11 things to consider when naming your book.

  1. Make a promise, create intrigue, identify a need, or simply state the content. (think PINC)
  2. Appeal to your target audience’s demographics and psychographics. It is of utmost importance to consider the following: gender, age grouping, education, race, breath or narrowness of religious doctrines, exact denominations, likes and dislikes of how that particular audience likes to buy or be sold to.
  3. Be unexpected. Your title shouldn’t be something so basic that a customer would easily glance over it. Your title should be enticing and engaging.
  4. Leave room for mystery. Don’t tell your audience exactly what or how to think about your book. Compel them to pick it up themselves.
  5. When deciding between going with what the majority of your largest target audience would like and what a lesser segment of your audience would like…choose the majority.
  6. Once you’ve narrowed down the possible selections to 5-8 possibilities, form a focus group of independent people within your target audience who are not bent towards you or your publishing team (not friends of yours), and ask them to consider your title options.
  7. Beware of not liking your own ideas and the ideas of your close friends (which may or may not also be your publishing team) so much that you agree with their ideas too quickly and blindly. Try to look at all of the options from an unbiased perspective.
  8. Be aware of any similarities that your publishing team might have with you. Force them (and yourself) to separate their mindsets to “think” like the majority within the target audience.
  9. Although a title that creates intrigue is great, consider all of the definitions or interpretations of the word or phrase. You don’t want to be blindsided by a less than pleasant definition or interpretation a couple months after your book launch.
  10. Particularly when writing nonfiction, always keep the “what’s in it for me” factor in the forefront of your considerations.
  11. Along with #10, heavily consider titles that seem to propose a solution. Why? Most readers of non-fiction or non-biographies are reading to engage and find answers.

Consider these things as you work on naming your next book. While the message of the book itself is what makes it your book, it’s the title that gets readers to pick it up in the first place. And we all need readers!

Do you have any suggestions for coming up with a book title? Leave your comments below!

Submitting Your Manuscript for Review

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Ready to send your manuscript to a publisher for review? Don’t make the mistake of being under-prepared!

Manuscript submissions come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, but nothing frustrates a publisher more than having to sift through badly formatted submissions with little to zero introductions. When editing your manuscript, stick to a neat, uniform look that will invite your reviewer to read it, rather than confuse them with a cluttered format. Based on the mistakes and negligence of other writers who have come before you, check out some of these things not to do when you submit your manuscript.

DON’T:

  • Have blatant spelling and grammar mistakes throughout your manuscript or cover letter.
  • Send a manuscript lumped together as one paragraph (you’d be amazed what we’ve seen!).
  • Disregard the submission guidelines and instructions on the publisher’s website.
  • Send the manuscript in the body of an email.
  • Forget to research the type of books represented by the publisher.
  • Use strange colors or fonts – stick to something standard and easy to read.
  • Compare yourself to incredibly famous writers. Let the reviewer find those similarities.

The list goes on, but if your manuscript submission needs to have one thing—other than your work—it should always be accompanied by a cover letter.

Your cover letter should include the following:

Explanation of the book
Provide a concise summary of your book. What genre does it fall into? What is it about? Tell them about your work!

Author bio
Many of us dread writing about ourselves, but this doesn’t have to be your life’s story! Just write something brief that will help the publisher and your readers get to know you better as a writer.

Connections and credits
Is this your first or fifth book? Did your short story get published on a blog or in a magazine? Did you intern for a publishing company in the past? Are you friends with someone notable? Humbly mention any of your relevant connections and significant publishing credits.

Marketing plan
Explain what your ultimate goal is for promotion. Who is your target audience? How are you going to reach them? Even if you don’t have definitive answers on your future marketing goals,it says a lot that you are even thinking about it on your own. Furthermore, talk about what you are already doing to promote yourself. Are you on social media? Do you have a blog?

Why you? Why them?
Be sure to explain why you think that publisher is the right one for you, and why your book is a good fit for the publisher. Not only does this show your attentiveness to the publisher’s brand and mission statement, but it displays a certain kind of intentionality that’s refreshing to any reviewer.

Once you’ve crafted a cover letter, tidied up your manuscript, spell checked them both multiple times, and sent your submission to the publishing company, the final step is to be patient. Most publishers get numerous submissions a day, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few weeks or even months. Feel free to follow up, but don’t become a nuisance. 

Hopefully all of your hard work and forethought will help your manuscript stand out amidst the rest!

Update & Praise Report

We’ve had an exciting week here at Certa Publishing!

This morning our team has been reflecting on God’s goodness and favor on Certa Publishing and our authors. Here’s a quick praise report of some of the happenings this week.

Two new authors signed:
Darryl Goode: “Grandpa and the Rainbow Fish”
Dr. Victor Morgan: “Holiness: The Hidden Path,” “Heaven’s Great Hope,” “The Wonderful Name of Jesus,” and “Praise and Worship”

Three books sent to press:
Worship That Touches the Heart of God” (Reprint of the English Version) by Nina Gardner
“Worship That Touches the Heart of God” (Spanish Version) by Nina Gardner

General updates:
– Author Paul Wilbur is in India preaching, teaching, and leading worship this week.
– Author Patrick McGuffin is in India on a mission trip for two weeks. (Not connected to Paul Wilbur’s trip)
– Author Bruce Lengeman led a webinar on Deliverance from Unholy Memories with International College of Ministry.
– Finalized Author Steve Wittmann’s manuscript.
Author Royalties sent in the mail!

Please join us as we continue to pray for our authors and the books the Lord has given them.

We are specifically praying our Lord would continue to open the right doors for them and these books would help advance the Kingdom of God.

How To Launch Your Book With At Least 25+ Amazon Reviews

We absolutely love this article and resource from Tim Grahl. Check it out and let us know if you  1) Want help implementing these ideas and/or  2) Have had success doing this!

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I was speaking with an Amazon employee recently.

I asked her, “What’s the most helpful thing an author can do to improve conversion of their book page?”

This is what she told me:

“By far, the most important thing an author can do is get more customer reviews.”

I was able to launch my own book with more than 25 book reviews on Day One, and recently saw it click past 200 customer reviews.

If your book hasn’t hit 200 reviews yet (or 25), don’t despair.

I’ve developed a tried and true method that will ensure that, when you launch your next book, you’ll immediately get more than 25 customer reviews the first day your book is released.

I’m going to walk you step-by-step through that process, so that you’ll have this system working for you when you launch your next book:

FIRST STEP: GET YOUR THINKING STRAIGHT

In coaching many authors through this process, I’ve found that it’s important to dissolve the common mental blocks that can try to keep you from success.

1. It’s OK to ask people to help you.
Of course, if you’re going to ask someone to write a review of your book, you need to it do it correctly and politely.

But that aside, it really is OK to ask someone to be a part of your book launch. The person on the other end is a grownup — they can say “No” if they need to.

Also, this is a huge event in your life! You’re publishing a book!

When you ask people to be a part of that — and trust them to give an honest, intelligent opinion — you’re actually paying them a compliment.

2. It’s not unethical to request Amazon reviews.
I’ve studied the official Amazon Review Creation Guidelines, and nothing that I recommend in this article breaks any of their rules.

3. You won’t be cannibalizing your book sales.
Having a lot of customer reviews reaps you more sales. It’s a great investment.

So don’t worry that the people you’re sending free review copies to would have otherwise paid for a copy. Most of them probably wouldn’t have bought a copy anyway — and now you’re getting a review from them!

4. Believe me, you can do this.
Everything I outline in this article is stuff any author can do.

Once you see how it works, you’ll realize that it’s a simple process that you can do over and over again, to get the same great results.

So now that we have our thinking straight, let’s jump in!

THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS FOR LAUNCHING YOUR BOOK WITH AT LEAST 25 AMAZON REVIEWS

1. Start early.
Start this process at least 8 weeks before your book comes out.

2. Make a list of people to ask.
Make a list of all the people in your life whom you’d like to have review the book. This is the time to call in favors from friends, colleagues and family.

The great thing about Amazon reviews is, they all count the same!

Whether it’s a bestselling New York Times author or your crazy Aunt Martha, the reviews all look the same on the Amazon book page.

Bonus Tip: Put each name and email address onto a spreadsheet so you can keep track of the entire process.

How it works: In my experience, you need to ask about three times more people than the number of reviews you’re working for. So you need to come up with at least 75 names to end up with 25 reviews.

That number allows for the one-third who will say “No” to the request, and the one-third who will forget to put their review up on launch day.

3. Offer each of them a free copy of your book.
Email each of these people individually, and offer them a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) to review.

How you fulfill these orders is going to depend on your publisher or your means:

* If you’re self-published: I recommend sending out a .MOBI, .EPUB or .PDF file, with directions on how to open the file.

You’ll also want to order 15 to 20 print copies of the book for those who either can’t or won’t read it in digital format.

* If you’re traditionally published: Coordinate with your publisher on the best way to send out ARCs.

In most cases, they are not going to allow you to send out the digital file to readers, so you’ll be stuck with print copies. However, your publisher should ship these copies for you.

Below is the exact copy you can use to offer an ARC to everyone on your list.

SUBJECT: My New Book

Hi [FIRST NAME],

Hope you’re doing well! [And other niceties . . . “It’s been a long time!” etc.]

Over the last [X MONTHS/YEARS], I’ve been working on a new book titled [TITLE OF YOUR BOOK].

I’m excited to announce that in just [X WEEKS] it’s going to be available on Amazon!

One of the most important things an author can do for their book is to launch it with a lot of Amazon customer reviews.

I’d love your help with this.

May I send you a free copy of my book to read? All I ask is that you leave your honest feedback/thoughts as a customer review on [XX/XX/XX <— pub date] — the day my book comes out.

[SELF-PUB] I’d be happy to send you a digital copy that you can read on any of your devices. Or, if you’d rather have a print copy, I have a few available. Just reply with your address and I’ll drop it in the mail right away.

[TRADE PUB] I’d be happy to send you a copy of the book. Just reply to this email with your mailing address and I’ll drop it in the mail right away.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions.

Thanks so much!

[YOUR NAME]

Send this as a personal email to each individual on your list.

Bonus Tip: Keep track of everything on your spreadsheet, including when you sent the original email, when they responded, what their response was and, if applicable, their mailing address.

How it works: You have to make the condition that, if they want a book, they have to agree to leave a review on Amazon on the launch date.

Because if you just send out books and hope people will leave reviews . . . they won’t.

Let them know up front that you are asking them for a review in return for the book.

4. Immediately send them a copy of the book.
Don’t delay. Immediately get the book sent to them via email or shipping, depending on which format they request.

Bonus Tip: Create a .ZIP file that includes the .MOBI, .EPUB and .PDF of your book, with a separate PDF with instructions on how to load the book onto their device. That will make your life easier.

Then whenever someone requests a review copy, you can immediately reply and attach the .ZIP file, and know they have everything they need.

How it works: You need to give them plenty of time to read the book, so get them a copyimmediately.

5. Put all of the reviewers on an email list.
Create an email list in MailChimp, or your email marketing platform of choice, and name it “ARC Reviewers.” From here on, you’ll want to be able to email them en masse.

But don’t add them to that MailChimp list until you’ve sent them their review copy.

6. Email your reviewers one week before launch date.
One week before your book launches, send an email to everyone on your ARC Reviewer list, reminding them of both your publication date and their commitment to leave a review.

You can do this in a very polite way. Here’s the copy I recommend using:

SUBJECT: One Week Left!

Hi [FIRST NAME],

Thanks again for agreeing to review my new book [TITLE OF THE BOOK]!

I’m so excited to be putting this book out into the world next [DAY OF THE WEEK — TUESDAY, ETC].

I just wanted to follow up to see if you had any questions before you leave your review on launch day.

If you don’t know what to say in the review, just leave a couple sentences with your thoughts and feedback.

Also, be sure to mention that you received a free review copy of the book.

Have a great rest of the week!

[YOUR NAME]

How it works: This is a polite way to remind your reviewers that they agreed to leave a review on launch day.

And for those who forgot about their commitment to review the book, it lets them know that they still have a week to read it!

7. Email them early on your launch day.
The night before your book launch, schedule an email to go out to your ARC Reviewer MailChimp list at 6:00 am Eastern Time the following morning.

The purpose of this email is to give everyone one last reminder to leave a review.

Here is the copy I suggest you use:

SUBJECT: Launch Day!

Hi [FIRST NAME],

I just wanted to send you a quick reminder that today my new book *[TITLE OF THE BOOK*] is available! This means you’re now able to leave a review.

Click here to leave an Amazon customer review for my new book. [<— Link that sentence to the actual review page on Amazon.com]

Thanks so much for helping me with this launch! I truly appreciate it.

And please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you!

[YOUR NAME]

Keep the email short and be sure to include a link directly to where they can leave their review on Amazon.

You want to make the path between your email and their review as short as possible.

How it works: The people who agreed to review your book are well-meaning, but are apt to forget about your launch.

This final reminder email will make sure many of them follow through.

8. Send a personalized follow-up email.
After the first week of your launch, send every single person on your list who posted a review (even if they didn’t post it on launch day) a personalized Thank You email.

Each of them took the time to read your book and to leave a review, and that deserves a big Thank You!

Bonus Tip: Mail each of them a handwritten Thank You note!

____

That’s it — that’s the entire process!

It’s not difficult or complex, just a bit time-consuming.

To help it all run more quickly and smoothly for you, I’ve created a downloadable package that includes:

  • A sample spreadsheet, so you can see how to track all of your reviewers
  • A PDF containing all of the email content
  • A PDF with instructions on how to download .EPUB, .MOBI and .PDF files onto electronic readers

Download the Amazon Review Package.

Featured by Christian Small Publishers Association

Certa Publishing was recently featured in the Christian Small Publishers Association newsletter.

Have you ever had a dream, but never truly believed it could become a reality? Did God call you to do something, yet others told you it couldn’t be done?

This is the story behind Certa Publishing and its founder and CEO, Jennifer Smothers. After working in the Christian book-publishing industry for many years and helping to develop a well-known self-publishing company, Jennifer felt called by God to start her own book publishing company. When the doors to this very opportunity were opened, Jennifer jumped in with both feet.

“Certa” is Latin for reliable and faithful. The name was specifically chosen to reflect God’s assurance to His people. For this reason, from its inception, Jennifer understood Certa would be held to a higher standard than other selfpublishing companies. Certa’s mission is to only publish kingdom-minded books, ones that would positively impact God’s people—bringing healing, restoration, and salvation. Each manuscript submission is carefully evaluated to determine if they meet Certa’s high standards—or those standards that would serve to honor God. Certa is adamant about not publishing books that contradict the Word of God.

Since opening its doors in March of 2014, Certa Publishing has published over 45 titles, with several more currently in production. Certa has been blessed with incredible authors, who earnestly strive to serve God with all of their hearts. With a staff that also desires to glorify God, the publishing process becomes a true labor of love for both staff and author. With Certa, authors acquire professional guidance, lasting relationships, and a professional, marketable end product. But the author gets even more than they ever anticipated—a team who celebrates each victory with them every step of the way! For Certa, it’s all about expanding the kingdom of God and this will continue be the driving force that propels the company in the years to come!

Certa Publishing can be found online at www.CertaPublishing.com

Be writing. Be read.

Did you know we have a newsletter?

Whether you’re thinking of submitting your first manuscript, working on marketing an older release, publishing a third book, or anywhere in between, we want to inspire and aid you along the way.

Be writing. Be read. is a newsletter designed to help you along, every step of the way, no matter where you are in the process. It’s full of helpful articles to inform and motivate, encouraging stories from fellow writers, your own questions answered, and much more. Be writing. Be read. is more than just another email to flood your inbox twice a month. We genuinely hope for it to be a blessing and a resource for you along your writing, editing, publishing, and marketing journey.

Sign up here to get the newsletter right to your inbox!

Marketing Your Way To Success

So many times an author writes a great book and believes, wholeheartedly, it will sell off the shelves and help thousands of people. While many of them do sell, great success is rarely seen without enormous effort. Although, writing, editing, and publishing a book takes determination, the work doesn’t stop when the product is in your hands. Don’t let your book fizzle-out before it has the opportunity to catch ablaze.

Joel Osteen once said, “You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat.” But what does that mean? How does an author “plan for defeat?” One of the biggest ways is by failing to have a marketing plan in place.

Social media marketing is an extremely powerful way to find followers, create relationships, and consequently, create book sales. If you don’t have your own Twitter account or a Facebook page for your book, start there. Create accounts, find your friends, and search for other accounts that are related to your book’s topic and target audience. When marketing on social media platforms, it is important to be sure you are not just trying to create a financial transaction. Nowadays, people don’t like to be beat over the head with sales. They want a relationship. They want to know, “What’s in it for me?” So encourage them, teach them, and let them know you’re the expert in your field. Post quotes from your book, retweet encouraging information, links to helpful articles or videos on your topic, tell a short but funny story, research what other authors of similar books are doing and determine the pros and cons. The options are endless! When it comes to social media, engagement is imperative. Every time you comment on someone else’s posts or tweets, you are going to pop up on that person’s followers’ feeds and pages. When applicable, make sure to tastefully place your book link at the end.

To quote Tom Althouse, “If you feel like giving up, give up on that feeling and give into the realization there are endless possibilities waiting to be discovered before you.” This may be your feeling on marketing, but try to think differently. Take on the challenge of learning how to market your book. Research and read about techniques, dive into different strategies, and never be afraid to ask questions. Most importantly, let your enthusiasm for your book carry over into your marketing – expect success and act upon it!

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– Article written by Emiley Jones –